Water problems need to be dealt with quickly including foundation dampness which can create subsidence, cause timber rot and attract termites.

The cause of a water problem can often be identified by keeping three things in mind:

  1. Fresh water is supplied by the local water authority and distributed to various outlets by a network of pipes.
  2. Storm water from rainfall – unless it’s stored for re-use – is discharged through a network of pipes.
  3. Waste water (from sinks, basins, washing machines, showers and toilets) is also discharged by a network of pipes.

The three networks should be completely separate and damp ground conditions suggest that one of them isn’t working properly. If the ground smells, it’s probably the waste water system but if it doesn’t it’s likely to be either the storm water drainage system or the fresh water supply system.

To see whether the water supply network is the problem, check your water meter last thing at night after you’ve finished using water for the day. Check it again in the morning before using any water (so don’t flush the toilet!) and see if the reading has changed. If it has, you’ve got a leak.

Storm water drainage problems should only be evident after heavy rainfall.

Ultimately you’ll need a plumber to repair most water problems but it can help to know what you’re talking about when getting quotes. It’s also useful to know whether the problem is yours, the Council’s, the water authority’s, or even the neighbours so you know who to approach.